California Apparel Manufacturers Make Face Masks for COVID-19 Pandemic
There has been a shortage of face masks and surgical gear as the COVID-19 pandemic progresses. Some California apparel manufacturers have stepped up to meet the challenge of serving the medical community and the public during this time.
AST Sportswear/Bayside Apparel of Brea, Calif., shifted 30 of its sewing machines from making T-shirts to manufacturing face masks, said Abdul Rashid, the company’s chief operating officer.
The masks are made out of cotton, yielding a product that is breathable and washable. While these masks are not medical grade, as Rashid explained, the shortage is so great, hospitals have been asking for them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a recommendation that when surgical face masks are not available, people should make homemade masks out of bandanas or scarves.
AST Sportswear/Bayside Apparel shipped 1,200 masks on March 19. It anticipated shipping 25,000 masks on the week of March 23. Rashid’s team has shipped masks to Southern California hospitals such as Beverly Community Hospital in Montebello, Calif. The company also anticipates working with Veterans Administration hospitals, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, LAC + USC Medical Center, and has held talks with medical professionals and government officials in Detroit, New Orleans and Alaska.
“We’ve been shipping out masks on UPS on our dime,” Rashid said. “The demand is getting greater.”
AST Sportswear/Bayside Apparel also manufactures safety T-shirts and vests for emergency crews. It has requested an essential-business exemption from the state of California to stay open, but the Rashid has not received a reply on the status of his request.
Smaller companies have also been getting involved. Los Angeles’ Sene has manufactured made-to-measure suiting and casual clothes since 2017. Sene’s founder Ray Li asked his suppliers if they can make masks. His China-based supply chain made masks that are breathable, stretchy and waterproof, he said.
“For fortunate companies like us who are well-capitalized enough to weather this storm, we have a moral responsibility to do our part to help,” Li said. “There are so many medical professionals who are risking their lives every day.”
Li anticipated getting 3,000 masks delivered to his downtown Los Angeles offices during the week of March 23. He hoped to donate the masks to hospitals in the Los Angeles area and Washington state. He also wanted to explore partnerships with other companies to finance the donation of masks. Interested parties can contact Li via the company’s website at https://senestudio.com/pages/masks.
Los-Angeles headquartered activewear-and-fashion brand Rogiani designed mask covers to help the public get through the pandemic. Brand founder Elisabetta Rogiani said that these light-weight mask covers can be tied over surgical masks.
“When you wear [a surgical mask] and talk with another human being, it starts a panic situation,” she explained. “If you cover the mask with a fun color, it will lift spirits and help during this horrible situation. It will give you spirit to fight.”
Some mask covers feature sequins, camouflage and flower designs. An individual face-mask cover retails for $22 and can be found at rogiani.com. Portions of sales will be donated to animal shelters. She hopes to collaborate with medical professionals to develop a surgical face mask.